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MPR's "Meet the Candidates" series with Paul Wellstone, U.S. Senator discussing re-election campaign issues.

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(00:00:00) And good morning. Welcome to midday of Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Gary eichten. Glad you could join us by any measure. The US Senate race here in Minnesota is one of the most interesting and important in the nation both of the leading candidates incumbent Democrat Paul wellstone and Republican Challenger Norm Coleman. Both are very well-known. They're extremely well financed and they're running neck and neck in the polls. Both candidates are drawing support from around the nation in part because of who they are in part because control of the US Senate may very well depend on who wins this race. Well today on. Midday. We're going to focus on the race for the US Senate Minnesota joining us today as part of our continuing meet. The candidate series is Democrat Paul wellstone now, if you have a question for Senator wellstone, we invite you to give us a call. Our Twin City area number is 6512276 thousand 6512276 thousand outside the Twin Cities. You can reach us toll-free and that number Is one eight hundred to four to two 80286 512276418 hundred two four two two eight 287000. Thanks for coming over. (00:01:09) You're welcome. Good to be here. Thanks for the MPR debate at the State Fair kind of a raucous. Oh, yeah, everyone it but you know what? That's the state fair. It's like, you know, we were at this Gathering yesterday. It was fun Sheila and I were on Saturday at the plaza Latina and the east side of st. Paul, you know, and everybody was supposed to give it was a like a groundbreaking 10 new businesses, very exciting and you know, you were going to give a talk or speech and they're all the music breaking out and children talking and I said, this is a community Gathering that's what you get, but it was fun (00:01:45) over the noon hour. We're going to hear from Norm Ornstein who was in town last week and he said that as far as he can tell this Fall's elections are probably the most important that we're going to see in our lifetime because the two Are almost perfectly divided in terms of power sharing in the rest all across the board control of both houses of Congress are at stake. So on so forth. Do you think given Assuming he's right about that. Do you think people in Minnesota ought to look at your contest with Norm Coleman as being a race between the two of you or one that really should be seen in a larger context control of the (00:02:28) Senate. Well, you know, I think Gary first of all, I think people are first and foremost going to see it as a Minnesota race and who people you know, feel like can represent them. Well who people, you know, trust him believe in and thinking work hard for him. I mean, I really believe that and and I think it's always your own chemistry with people and whether people like you and believe in you, I still think that matters more than anything else so that that's I think very minnesota-based. I think I think I've said it before in midday show with you that when I decided to run again, I mean, I thought to myself boy they're going to be a lot of decisions to go to Norms point. They're going to be made that are going to crucially affect the quality or lack of quality depending upon your point of view lives of people in Minnesota and in the country on the environment, you know, I like to say, what are we going to drill for oil and every Park on social security or we going to privatize Partially privatized go to private accounts no matter what they want to say. Are we going to take this money and and put it into the stock market or we going to preserve Social Security which is what I think we have to do or education. You know, how much of it are we going to continue to go down the tax cut Road Robin Hood in Reverse was so much of the tax cuts not focused on students being able to afford college but top 1% multinational corporations. Are we going to invest in education? And what about health care? You're going to have pharmaceutical companies in the health insurance industry running the show and deciding what the legislation will be be a prescription drug legislation, whatever so there are certainly a lot at stake in terms of who controls the Senate. That's absolutely true Roe v-- Wade future Supreme Court. What kind of decision is going to be made on on Roe v-- Wade and right to choose. These are really important questions in the Minnesota race is certainly part of this (00:04:21) Iraq is currently the big issue. Certainly, how are you going to vote on that resolution that the Asian is sent to Congress. (00:04:31) Well, I don't think it will be the resolution that the administration sent to Congress. I think there will be some changes made in some of the wording. I'm for sure. I mean just I'm not a lawyer but for example, I think the the request for authorization for military action and sort of as it affects the whole region could be not just Iraq. But anywhere in the Middle East I think my guess is that that would be changed. I think the big question is going to be and they're probably be several resolutions and I can't tell you what each will look like yet. I can tell you this because I think this is what minnesotans want and I think it's what people in the country should require of all of us. We should make the most intellectually and personally honest decision that we can make and for me. I think the real question is what do I think is First Choice in most preferable? What I think is that it is possible. To design an international arms inspection regime that will insist on unfettered access that can and that can work. It's possible to do that. We should try to make that happen and it should be made clear to Saddam Hussein that if in fact he will not comply. There will be consequences that will follow I believe should be done. I don't think we should do this alone. I think it should be done through the International Community. I'm not interested in Saddam Hussein being able to Galvanize the International Community against the United States. I'd rather it be the opposite. I think the security Council in the UN will move in that direction. If we were to engage in a unilateral ground war without any support from the International Community. I think the think we have to think very deeply about the consequences in the near east and south Asia whether or not we inflamed radical elements increasing instability the very places where we need Intelligence on the ground in the war against Is what will be the impact on the israeli-palestinian conflict? What will be the impact in Kashmir and India and Pakistan? So I would far prefer that we not do this alone and that we do the heavy lifting to get the international support. That's my general framework (00:06:45) Senate Majority Leader. Tom daschle has already said that when all is said and done they'll Senate will pass a resolution supporting the president. What do you support that position and we were told a month ago that there was going to be vigorous debate on this issue. That sounds like well there might be some discussion but basically the issues already been resolved. (00:07:06) Yeah. Well, I think again they'll be it's not clear what the final resolution or probably resolutions will be my guess is they'll be to really competing resolutions and we'll wait to see the final wording as to your question of has there been the Paul has there been the serious subs and Questioning and discussion when you're talking about, you know, a life-or-death question that could have such a serious impact not only on young people that are put In Harm's Way for Americans, but the world we live in my answer is no I think the I wish there I think there there there could and should be more but that's beside the point. I mean, I think the time you should decide what to do is when you have all the information and you feel like this is the best decision I can make but it's beside the point and there will be a vote and Tom daschle's right about that and it'll probably take place not this week, but next week, they'll be a lot of committee invest in hearings this week and opportunities to raise a lot of questions, but it's sort of an artificial deadline if that's what you're saying is that an artificial deadline. The only time you really should vote is when you really feel like you've got all of the information but that's beside the point. There's going to be a vote (00:08:20) Norm Coleman said the day that he believes the president has made the case for u.s. Action against Iraq, would you agree? (00:08:29) Well three weeks ago on your the debate that we had on NPR. I think he said look, you know the case hasn't been made and and (00:08:38) but he said with the (00:08:40) with the UN species, I think I think I think there are two or three points to make I mean the first is no everybody and nobody believes that Saddam Hussein should be put in parentheses and ignored and just let it go. That's not the issue. I think everybody believes that it is important. That was what was good about the president's speech to the UN was to go to the UN and say look, it's important for the security Council in the UN to insist on the unfettered arms inspection and make a clear that that has to happen now and that's now Saddam Hussein said, yes, and can we trust on Saddam Hussein? Oh, but I think it's evidence of where the international pressure can take them. And I think that's the way to go and I think whatever happens by way of insisting that we go. We are and we know what he has and that all of that be dismantled should be done by the International Community. I think that's really what's at issue. That's the key point now going back three weeks ago what's changed what hasn't changed. I'll tell you what hasn't changed is there's no there is no connection that has been made to Al-Qaeda at all. And there is no evidence that he has any Weaponry that he can now use against the United States any time in the foreseeable future. That's that's not changed at all. The question really is the best way to really insist on the arms inspection and the best way to get this done and the best way to have to bring the International Community along with you. I think that's far better than than like open-ended authorization for unilateral ground war. (00:10:15) Paul wellstone is with us. He is seeking a third term in the US Senate has come by today to talk about the campaign talk about the issues and take your questions. We have a full Banker callers here. Let me give you the number don't call though. You'll just get discouraged and upset and impatient as you'll get a busy signal waited for a couple of minutes till we clear some lines 6512276 thousand or one eight hundred two, four two two eight two eight male your question, please good morning, Gary. Good morning, Senator. Good morning. First of all, I agree with Tom Friedman's column in this morning Star Tribune where he says that the majority of Americans do not support going to war against Iraq and So within that context I want to say that I appreciate the senator in not accepting President Bush's Reckless for strike policy and instead taking a cautious and more International approach. My question is I Senators already talked about what's not changed in terms of Iraq over the last few months. I'm wondering what has changed in Iraq since last summer that would cause the White House to rush to war. Now this fall. (00:11:34) Yeah. Well first of all about Tom Friedman, and for those of you who are listening, is it male or mal? (00:11:44) Let's see (00:11:46) Mel Mel. Thank you for the question. Well, if it's okay with you Mel, I want to mention to people in Minnesota that Tom Friedman is our Tom Friedman. He's a Minnesotan and he I think his writing has been real important and he's had he's had a lot to say that I think that makes a great deal of sense. He is in particular one of the pieces that he Romel that I just want to mention quickly had to do with the fact he That his argument was that in a lot of the countries in the near east and south Asia one of the real problems is that really for Highly Educated citizens with tremendous amount of intellectual Capital skills. The problem is that there's no space for descent. I mean, you know, there's no huge respect for human rights people are crushed for speaking out and and and this is not the stuff of social stability and there's a lot of countries to look at in that respect. Let me tell you and I think he makes an important point. I mean II obvious point is that when you have people in a lot of countries that literally can't move and have nowhere to just have no economic opportunities. That's not the stuff of social stability either. None of this is a justification for any violence period but the point is I think Freeman has done a good job of of making this case on Iraq and what has changed. I don't know. I mean others would have to answer that question as to what has changed since last summer. I think that's that's for you and others to try to figure out the timing of all this I think but what is true is that I think we do have to take very serious the goal of dealing with the problem of weapons of mass destruction. Now, what is interesting to me is and Tom Friedman and others have made this point as well Mel. What's interesting to me? Is that frankly? It's not just the Dom. I mean there there is there is the nunn-lugar initiative which the administration is severely underfunded which is you know, we need to get this the nuclear material that's in hanging around there in Russia where people, you know, the economy is not done that well and can be smuggled out. We need to really we need to be buying that we need to be getting it out of these countries. We need to make sure that the scientists and others have some alternative other than to work for the kind of governments and regimes we don't want them to work for so there's a whole and also again I'll go back to the international. We have to depend upon we have to do the work with the International Community. I mean if you are serious and we should be we should be you ask what's changed what hasn't changed. I'll tell you something that has not changed is Al Qaeda and the war against terrorism. I take very seriously in the basis of everything every intelligence briefing. I've had I have no doubt that there could that they have the capability to wreak more damage with more loss of life. And I believe that you can have the greatest technology in the world. But unless we have the assets on the ground or the Intelligence on the ground in the near east and south Asia. It's going to be very dim and other countries is going to be very difficult for us to be successful. So I don't think we want to just break away from the International Community right now. I think it's extremely important. We don't do that and I worry about you know with a some of the directions and the Kyoto treaty on global warming and on some of the human rights questions and a lot of other questions. I worry the ways in which the Administration has moved away. From working within the International Community. Ultimately we live in the world many of these countries are our neighbors whether we want it or not. And I think it's terribly important that we take a thoughtful International approach one more question on this (00:15:31) subject if the UN ultimately decides not to do anything basically bypass some kind of a resolution perhaps which says gosh that maybe you ought to let us come in and look around or something and you know, what then that then do you do you clear the way for the president to take action (00:15:50) or well you you you know, I think first things first Gary and I would just tell you right now I do not believe that will happen. I actually think one of the reasons I think it's well worth it for us to do the heavy lifting right now and say listen we are committed to we are calling on the UN Security Council. We put that emphasis right now. That's where the emphasis should be. We are calling on you the security Council United Nations to insist on this unfettered. Arms inspection and to make it Crystal Clear there will be consequences if Saddam Hussein does not live up to that to me is what we ought to do and you know what? I think that's what will happen. That's what will happen. And to me it would be a shame if we if that's not our first course of action (00:16:31) Ron your question, please yeah, I just have a question for doctor or for Senator wellstone about (00:16:38) my was a dime. I'm a doctor. Nobody ever tells me that right makes but Paul is (00:16:43) good in light of 9/11 and the Bush Administration wanting to go to Iraq and spend anywhere from a hundred to two hundred billion dollars to fight this war and our energy policy. Yeah, we've heard so much about how we're dependent on Middle Eastern Oil. And what can we do about it my idea we spend two hundred billion dollars in supporting the Alternative Energy in this country. What do you think? (00:17:12) I think you have a good idea. I mean, I think that You know, I'm gonna not gonna use this forum to to to make this a big debate opponent. I'd rather he be here but I mean, I'll just sort of point out some differences in I'll do it. Not in a shrill way. I think that the shame of it with this Administration is again, if you want to talk about while you're talking about fossil fuels are told by global warming you talk about the environment and here we are in our state of Minnesota cold weather stayed at the other end of the pipeline and when we import barrels of oil and MCS of natural gas, we export probably 11 billion dollars a year and frankly the future is not col just look at the acid rain Mercury air toxics and our Lakes were over and over again, we're told if you know, if you're a woman expecting a child don't eat the fish or if you have small children only eat fish once a week. It's just outrageous. I mean there's a but but we are rich in what I mean biomass to electricity wind renewable saved energy. Biodiesel ethanol clean technology small business. That's the direction to go in but this is a an Administration that is dominated by Oil Company interests. And that's what they're about to mean in there. They're pretty active in the race in Minnesota. I don't represent them. I represent the I think really the future you're talking about and I think it is in our national interest to get serious about what Amory Lovins called Soft path energy policy which with a strong emphasis on efficient energy you saved energy renewable energy policy clean technology small business keep capital and communities more respectful of the environment. That's the marriage that we could make if these big interest in dominate so much of the politics (00:18:53) now the caller suggested though. I think without putting words in his mouth how we take the money that would otherwise be spent on attacking Iraq and (00:19:01) yeah spend it on. Well, I'm not no I'm not. Well first of all, let's not get into attacking. I mean we're getting way ahead of the story. I mean, I think I was responding to his point that we ought to not so much on the attacking Iraq because I think that's ahead of Story and but more on whether or not we should be focusing on as a domestic priority much less a national security priority invest in in a different energy policy and he's absolutely right and look. I mean the House of Representatives has an energy bill that has about thirty two billion dollars of tax credits about 28 billion of which go for energy companies much of it for all companies that made forty billion dollars in profits last year. These are not the folks that are pouring the money into the Minnesota race for me. I mean these I don't represent these interests and I think I think that Ron is right that we ought to be invested more in this different future. I don't think you need I'm not going to argue it in terms of a zero-sum game in relation to what we need to do in Iraq or what we need to do in other countries. I will like to make one other point though. It is terribly important that I mean for the sake of our own morality. We cannot leave Afghanistan a country other than a country where the people are better off including women and I will tell you there's a huge debate right now. The president there is called for an International Security force that we be a part of that that's an enormous problem of economic political reconstruction much less National Security. What are we going to do about Afghanistan? I mean, these are some there some other real challenges out there that are staring Us in the face that we cannot move away (00:20:36) from Rosita quick question before we break for news, please thank you. Actually, I'm calling to say thank you to Senator Wilson for his work advocating for human rights in Colombia. And I know that President Alvaro Uribe will be in Washington this week. I don't know if he will have a chance to meet him. I request just begging you to be very strong. With him on the asking for starting a new peace process with the egregious and also to be more strong with paramilitaries. I can't believe there is a national interview to Carlos castagna in NPR when this is a person who is one of the best Narco traffickers in the world and he is treated like a this big personality when there are thousands of human rights leaders in danger. So I want to say thank you. So another Wilson and please keep your hand strong on human right? (00:21:40) Thanks. I will and thank you and there's much to talk about I think we're running out of time. I do want to let you know I met with the vice president last week and we talked about Francisco their Roi by the Pacho in Barranca demaio who has done such wonderful work and and there were some comments that the president of ruby made that I that really concerned me and I said look you have to make sure that this man is safe and Gary really without getting into a hold. I mean one of the things that Rosetta saying or Zito saying is that the Civil Society people people who aren't involved with any of the different organizations, they should not be murdered with impunity. I mean and you have to make sure that the paramilitary is not able to do that and that the military isn't supporting the paramilitary and that the government is clear in defending human rights. That's what we're worried about. (00:22:26) Senator. Paul wellstone is our guest this our part of our continuing meet the candidates series here on Minnesota Public Radio. Let me give you the number again a couple of lines are open six five. One two, two seven six thousand 6512276 thousand outside the Twin Cities one eight hundred two, four two two eight two eight we get to more of your questions here in just a couple of minutes playwright. August Wilson has won two Pulitzer prizes for his searing dramas that look at American Life find out why when he comes to the Twin Cities Tuesday, October 8th, I'm Catherine Lanford join us for a live broadcast, which Thompson will be there on the piano. It's all at the Fitzgerald. Theater Tuesday, October 8th at 7 p.m. Called the Fitzgerald box office six five one 290 1221 discount for MP our members and penumbra theater subscribers time now for some news headlines is William Wilcox and William. Thanks Gary in the news as Israel continues its Siege of Yasser Arafat. The White House is ramping up its criticism, press secretary Ari Fleischer says President Bush believes Israel's actions are unhelpful and US officials have convey that message to prime minister Ariel Sharon responding to Suicide bombings last week Israeli forces if now demolished all but one office building in arafat's compound a Palestinian negotiator says Arafat rejects Israel's demand that he provide a list of people hold up with him in Ramallah negotiator met today with Israeli officials. That was the first face-to-face contact during the five-day standoff at arafat's headquarters thousands of people in the Gaza Strip and West Bank are taking part in a strike to support Arafat as the Senate nears a decision on the Security Bill President Bush is renewing his veto threat. He says he won't saddle his administration or future ones with ownerĂ­s work rules in the new cabinet department Bush says the measure favored by the Senate Democratic Leadership sacrifices America's security to the narrow interests of unions. Democrats say bush is mounting an assault on employee protections. Wall Street is seeing further declines today analysts say worries about corporate earnings economic weakness and a possible war with Iraq are all dampening investor enthusiasm. The Dow Jones Industrials are down 169 points today. Also today the conference board announced its index of leading economic indicators fell in August for the third straight month a public health expert at the University of Minnesota is advising the federal government on how to vaccinate entire populations against smallpox. If there were to be a taboo bioterrorism attack Michael Oster home says the government plan being sent to the States today is a very detailed thoughtful recipe for response in the event of a bioterrorism attack, North Dakota. Universities Research Foundation is starting a licensing program to promote genetically modified crops. It's called Roughrider genetics and official in charge of the project says the first soybean Variety in the program will be available for planting by North Dakota Farmers next year scattered showers near Lake Superior this afternoon, mostly cloudy and windy across the rest of the state highs from the middle 40s in the Northeast to the upper 50s in southern Minnesota for the Twin Cities partly sunny windy and cool the high in the upper 50s. And that's news from Minnesota Public Radio. I'm William wilcoxon. All right. Thank you William. It's 28 minutes now before twelve this is midday coming to you on Minnesota Public Radio today can our meet the candidates series continues course, Minnesota has a really interesting and Lively US Senate race underway incumbent Democrat Paul wellstone is seeking his third term. He's being challenged by former st. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman and the polls indicate the race very very close. You undoubtedly have seen and heard many of the ads that have been running. And so between now and November our coverage will continue today. Senator wellstone has come by to take your questions and let's get back to the phones Rick your question for Paul wellstone, please hi Senator wellstone have a question for you. That isn't related to Iraq. And anyway, yeah, so my question is about social security. There's been a lot of talk about possibly privatizing or partially privatizing Social Security. My question is have any of the candidates or why haven't any of the candidates brought up, you know, the possibility of opting out of Social Security if people instead of you know, leave Social Security the way it is right now and then for people who think it should be privatized or say, well you can opt out of it and then in the end they can just invest their 15% However, they want right and then at the end just you know, they don't receive the benefits of Social Security when they (00:26:57) retire right? Well a couple things first of all your your Work or your philosophy is is intellectually consistent and you know, I I respect you for that. We probably have a diff disagreement of just an honest philosophical disagreement a couple of different points. First of all on the question of privatizing or partial privatization, which is what it's always been called. And now I think since most people in a Cell in the country think it's a crazy idea that people who were for it including my opponent of now said, oh I'm not but they're on record as having supported and the reason that they're having trouble with it Rick is that even in what they consider to be what they call Private accounts are still taking money out of Social Security invest in the stock market because if you allow let's say you say to somebody take two percent out of your payroll check and invest it in whatever way you want to the big issue. Then is the transition cost that is to say over the next ten years. You've taken a trillion or a tree and a half dollars out of Social Security and how is that made up? What are going to cut people? Benefits going to raise the retirement age or what and nobody's been able to answer that question. What you've said is a little different which is let people opt out and don't end and also make it clear to people then you're not later on going to be social security recipient. Let's just really do it. That way let people kind of decide themselves more of a Libertarian as I understand it Viewpoint. And the reason that I just don't agree is that I just think that this program has been just the most probably successful public policy in the country over the years since Roosevelt first got it passed in 1935. And the reason is it as a universal coverage and we're all sort of say we're all in this together as a community and we all put money into it and we all hope that when we were over 65 years of age when we're eligible be it be it because of age or be because of disability or survivors benefits that there will be a decent income support for us. And I think it's worked really well that way and I would not want to change it and have enabling people just opt in or out of it. I think that would be I'm mistaken, by the way before Social Security. The the highest percentage of poverty was among elderly people because by definition now you're not working the more have don't have employment income. And so and that's all changed and that's been because of this very important Universal coverage program. I it will continue to be a big issue in the campaign because I don't I just don't let people say different things in different places. I to hold them accountable (00:29:28) you made it clear you don't support the idea of having people have their own personal accounts. What what what is it that that you will do over the next six years of you're re-elected to ensure the long-term Financial stability of Social Security of every yeah, apparently all the studies indicate that unless something changes and taxes are raised benefits are cut retirement age is raised or something right and less something significant happens. The system's going to go bankrupt. (00:29:58) Well, the argument is first of all, you don't you don't save it. By destroying it and and privatizing it and taking money and putting it into stock market Investments. That's the difference between myself and my opponent. So first of all Do no harm second of all don't take money out of Social Security trust fund because you know, we're looking 2039 and Beyond and on that one Gary only thing I can tell you that's another big difference in the race, which is that I just think that these tax cuts, you know, all of a sudden a five trillion dollar Surplus is gone now. We're in deficits. You got these Robin Hood in Reverse tax cuts with 40% going to the top 1% My opponent says yes, he's for that and extending it on and making it permanent. And if you do that then by definition and you no longer have any surpluses then you're taking money out so security trust fund. So that's the second thing. You got to be fiscally responsible and I think some of these tax cuts not focused on middle or working income people, but on the top 1% more breaks for multinational corporations irresponsible, and then the third thing which is an answer and I'm Is not given more. I mean you can get a good commission together. The president's commission is a problem with the president's commission's all of which all all their proposals when the direction of partial privatization is they went they didn't have any representatives from any of the consumer groups it ARP didn't even get any representation. So they didn't hear any other viewpoints and I'm sure you could get together a commission that could figure out some different kind of things that could be done. But I will tell you one thing that should be done which is macroeconomic the single best thing you can do for the Social Security is to have a much better economic performance. You should invest in your intellectual Capital not make Cuts in education. You should in make sure that you go after corporate insiders Scandal so people can invest because it is the economy. It is the wage levels it is what people make now that determines what is in the Social Security fund. There is no more important thing. You can do then to focus on the economy and economic performance. I'm not Vada your question. That is the truth is a hard thing. I feel like I'm just teaching I don't mean the pumps way. It's so hard thing to explain to people but actually people who are now retired the the income support comes from those of us who work in that's the transfer and then when we retire we hope the same thing will happen. Now people have put money in and you have all this insurance language Insurance analogies, but actually that's the way it works. So the key thing is the wage levels. Are we going to have a highly skilled Workforce Highly Educated good economic performance. Not the economy right now, which is the worst. We've seen it for years, which is of course something that's not so discussed, but I certainly will make sure that we discuss it a lot in the next four weeks five weeks (00:32:45) put words in your mouth here. Would you are you saying then that essentially nothing needs to be changed about social security system as long as economic growth perks (00:32:54) up. I'm not saying that Nothing. I can think of some things that might be changed. I'm saying that you could put together the best of a kind of a by are truly bipartisan commission that can figure people could talk about a number of different things. You know, it's a flat tax up to a certain level than come around. I don't know where it's at 68,000. Do you take that lid off or not? I don't know things can be looked at. I'm just telling you the single biggest issue. If you're asking me what needs to be done Paul as we look ahead is going to be the the kind of jobs as Kana me economy produces whether people are going to be working at Living wage jobs what their skill level is whether they're going to be producing high value products whether their wage levels are high because that is the single most important thing in determining whether or not you're going to have the resources available for Social Security. That's the single most important thing you can (00:33:43) do Vance. So your question, please. All right Senator, I'd like to thank you as well for the work that you do a couple of sessions ago the house passed a bill. It Woulda. Let allow Healthcare care providers to collectively bargain with managed care plans. I'm a chiropractor in St. Paul and Blue Cross for instance pays us less for an often visit office visits and they did 16 years ago in 1986. And in the meantime landlords and utility companies and staff all think cost should go up while we're expected to work for less than ever and I'm wondering why the Senate has done nothing with that legislation. (00:34:27) I'll tell you the Senate right now is I don't have a direct answer because I'm not sure where the the opposition comes from and I can tell you right now things are I mean the most immediate answer I can give you Vance's is that we've now had this Homeland Security bill on the floor for three weeks almost everything is being bottled up. There is an interior Appropriations bill that has been on for three weeks where you have close to 300 million dollars. Assistants were from Northwest Minnesota disaster relief that we pass but now is being blocked again. So nothing's moving in the Senate. Nothing is moving. It's all being filibustered and blocked at the moment, which is a huge problem on this particular issue. I need to talk more with you. I do think that it's important that I think we I think it is really important that caregivers low morale caregivers are not good caregivers and I think that doctors and others others in the medical field nurses you name it need to be in a position to get decent reimbursement and to feel good about their work. I don't know the the whole issue about the house bill haven't looked at in all the specifics and I've learned not to sort of be glib. I think the real question for me would be just to make sure that it does not it's not in violation of any antitrust laws or in some kind of way evolves into an anti-competitive practice. But but as far as people having some Like to bargaining rights, I think you know where I stand on that question (00:36:00) Jerry your question, please. Hi Paul. Yeah. Hi. I'm Kathy Beadle son from Fond du Lac. I don't know. She she would mention you all the time and talk rather finally of you I voted for you the last couple of times and I think you're doing a wonderful job and keep it up. It's hard though. When you have people attacking your record and that type of thing and I understand that my question to you would be the the 12 years that your opponent has made some political traction on it. You're not going to go it for me as a constituent. I don't care if it takes you 12 if it takes a little bit longer than 12 years then so be it. I mean when you look at a job or task to be done, sometimes you don't know the devil is always in the details, and I just wanted you to kind of you know, So how long do you think this will take you because you know, you said 12 years and you know, do you think another 12? Do you know do you have the stamina for another (00:37:01) 12? Well, I appreciate Jerry and first of all and the one of the things that I feel most proud of and took us a while, but I'm not making the argument for another 12 or 18 years, but we as you well know and Gary you should have seen it the school for the kids in Fond du Lac was so awful. It was just so dilapidated. It was just outrageous and it took us years. But finally we got the funding, you know, there's a long back list of priorities here and we were in and you know, children all children including children ending country should have the chance for a good education. We got a really beautiful school. Now, I feel really good about that. You know, the the jury I would say two quick things one. I guess. I already said to Gary so I won't repeat which is you know. To me. I saw the Senate then 50/50 and I thought boy if you have a White House Republican the Senate Republican house Republican and no checks and know that that I really worried about the directions. We would go in the country and health care and the environment and education and who takes on these big economic interests inside our corporate scandals and all the rest and I thought I don't want it but I do not want to bow out of this fight now it's too important for people I represent but it's in the hands of people in Minnesota people in Minnesota will decide on the question of changing your mind. The only thing I can say just with a twinkle in my eye because even with the all the attacks, I'm not so sure the attacks work when they're you know, if the music is all it's one thing to go after records and be clear where people stand and what it's another thing to do all of the sort of the music in the characters and it gets pretty you know, it can get pretty ugly. I don't think people Minnesota go for it. I've been attacked many ways like this before but as far as changing mine is concerned. I mean, you know, my opponent. He might be one of the first people in the history of the country who co-chaired who co-chaired both, uh Bill Clinton for president campaign and then co-chaired a George Bush Presidential race who was once a Democrat and then a Republican and gosh I could go over so many different issues. He's changed his mind on and said different things at different places. So I think that'll be kind of fun to do as we go we get more into the campaign (00:39:13) Mike here question, please Gary, I really enjoy the show Senator. Thank you for all your years of service. It seems like you've been there forever. I have a question probably the two most controversial votes you've taken war on Iraq and the war in 91 and welfare reform in 1996, and I wanted to ask on both of those issues. Do you feel like looking back and reflecting on your career those were the right votes to take and and if you had it to do over again would to take those votes again? I'll take my answer off the air. I appreciate you taking my question. (00:39:49) No, that's more. Fare. Well, I start with the welfare boat in 96 much attacked. No, I think it was you know, it wasn't I don't think people in Minnesota elected me to always do what's politically popular. I think people like to me to be always intellectually honest and cast what I think are the right decisions that piece of legislation had massive Cuts in benefits to illegal immigrants many of whom were in Minnesota. That's now been restored but was wrong to do that was one of the reasons I'm a first generation American I felt like I'd be cutting my hand off to vote against that and the second thing is it had oh, I think like 20 30 percent cut in food stamp benefits, which is the number one safety net program for children in America, very successful interestingly enough Richard Nixon was the one who federalized and said doesn't matter where a poor child lives we ought to at least have some minimum floor beneath which that child doesn't fall. I can't I can't vote for those. And it cuts so no, I don't regret it at all. Now on welfare. The interesting thing is and then the third thing and I want to mention it's okay Gary because is that is that what was changed from the original welfare legislation was we had always had a minimum floor beneath, which we said no poor dependent child would fall and to and we gave that up. That was the single most important thing that happened that legislation now a Minnesota. I'm a senator from Minnesota. Minnesota has the fifth program. We've done better than many states. We put much more into Child Care much more to job training you name it, but without that floor boy some states, it has been brutal. It has been brutal no concern about childcare no concern about education for single parents families are not better off. They're worse off. I wanted to at least keep some kind of floor beneath which no poor child would fall no matter where they live. So no, I don't regret it 91 as I always like to say and he wouldn't disagree with me. I was sort of in Listen, I was never opposed to deploy military forces that if you look I have great respect for people to pass because I'm not I voted for you know in Afghanistan military involvement in Bosnia and go in but given what happened in Kosovo. I remember going trying to get to Sarajevo thinking we can't let this go on there has to be some response, you know, God knows I feel that way as a first-generation American and and as an American Jew, I mean, I think what happened World War II, but what I thought then which was the position of General pal same position was I did not think that we had exercised all of the options to me military involvement can be necessary but it's the last option. I wanted to see us tighten the screws in other ways. I thought there were other sanctions that could be invoked before we went to military action. And that by the way was exactly the same position the general Powell took now 20/20 hindsight wrong the right, you know, you can look at that in a lot of different ways. I mean, you know President Bush's father was asked the question, but then after military involvement, why didn't you go all the way? Baghdad and he said, you know look because I know what would have happened and I don't regret the decision. I made people could do all of the monday-morning quarterback and they want to but on the basis of what I knew and on the basis of my framework, which is the military option is the last option that was to me the right decision and not much different from what other some other people including the now the Secretary of State said back then by the way a very good Secretary of State a very good Secretary State we (00:43:16) have mayor Coleman has said that gosh. Well you have been in the Senate you have voted against every major defense Appropriations Bill all the big The Big Bill's until 9/11 and wonders what you will do if you get re-elected once, you know the concern over 911 starts to recede little bit two three years down the road. Will you start voting against all those bills again? (00:43:41) Well that was on his part going down a slippery slope. Sometimes he he does that because Had he said more than that that had to do with you know, jeez, you know, what are these votes of about last couple years of the look what the votes about work. It backwards what the votes were about in the last couple of years is we had planes that went into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and we all know the horror of all of that Tom Burnett jr. Gave up his life a Minnesotan to take down another plant in Pennsylvania that was going to the Capitol to the White House and I take this war against terrorism very seriously. And by the way, I think that is should be the problem the major Focus right now. And so yeah, the president's asked for resources. And I've said yes because I think that's now what we're dealing with over the years. I mean, what's wrong about that is of course when I think there is I voted for against a military appropriation bills and for military appropriation bills, and especially those that deal with the circumstances of our meeting. Military personnel, you know housing living conditions making sure they have the training you name it. But if you're going to ask me did I think that there was some ways to vote against absolutely. I remember there was a general accounting stuff GAO General Accounting Office study and I think they argued I remember when it came out two years ago that they look back over the years and found like close to a think they said a trillion dollars of money Pentagon money that wasn't accounted for so yeah. I mean, I I take a take a you know, strong stand on that as I've said many times over John McCain also on any number of these different votes said there's a lot of waste here. I mean it varies from votes to vote but it's just again one of those characterizations. I might also say to you since I'm extremely proud of this. I think that one of the best ways you can support the military And and encourage women and men to serve our country is how you support our veterans who served in the military and that may I may be lucky enough or honored enough as a senator to have received his many awards and Veterans organizations is maybe anybody ever has in the Senate? So I'm very proud of the work these some of these hack attacks notwithstanding. It's just (00:46:00) unfortunately, we don't have a lot of time left, but I did want to mention this as well to Coleman campaign has pointed out that in a letter that you sent out to fundraising letter to organizations you were talking about one of the top of your top foreign policy goals would be demilitarization. What does that mean? Yeah, that's mean that's right down the military. (00:46:16) Well, you know that is in I'm dealing here with a no flattery intended a very good journalist and you won't put a smile on your face, but you you and this is like the reason we're going to win this race. I mean what is demilitarization mean it certainly is one of my top goals and I'm talking about weapons of mass destruction. And I'm talking about have how we can how we can strive for have the vision for and work for a world where you do not have so many governments armed to the hilt and where we do something about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. I am the father of three children and six grandchildren and I think that should be the primary goal of foreign policy. Yes. I want to see more of that. Are you (00:47:03) concerned that with all the ads you your campaign is running all the ads are mayor Coleman's campaign. Isn't that when all is said and done and there's six more water five six more weeks to go yet that come November 5th. People are going to say a pox on both your houses. I can't take this anymore. (00:47:19) Well, I think it can you have to worry about that. Here's what I think is interesting though is if you go through the chronology of this everything that I did was very very positive and then there was a lot of negative attack in a lot of attack and then after a while I'm going to start doing comparison and saying, He stands because I'm just you know at hey comes with being five five. I don't let people attack an attack an attack without pointing out the other person's record. So there will be that but I think people can judge the ads and the tone of the ads and see whether or not they think it's about comparing records and holding people accountable for taking a position on this issue one time then switching again, then switching again over and over and over again. So the question is who can you believe in and who do you think who can you trust in terms of where they stand on the issues that are most important to your lives? I'll I'm going to be very very careful not to get into some of the what I would consider to be vicious hack attack as I don't do that (00:48:14) shorter wellstone. Thanks for coming in today. Thank you. Our guests this our Paul wellstone who's seeking a third term in the US Senate joining us today as part of our meet the candidates series lots more information about all the candidates on our website, Minnesota Public Radio dot-org. I'm Ira Flatow in a report to Congress President Bush has outlined his vision of US military strategy. It calls for pre-emptive action against terrorists and says the US should act alone if necessary to protect American interests join Neal Conan on Monday as he hosts a discussion of what this means for u.s. Foreign policy that's on Talk of the Nation from NPR news. One o'clock this afternoon here on Minnesota public radio right now. It's five before.


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